Do you compensate for the
variables introduced by the
recording studio itself—
mics, mic placement, room
acoustics, etc.—as you listen
I think if someone wants to
match the sound of original
recordings, it’s much easier
with live recordings. The studio
recordings have too many variables that we
don’t truly know. I base my amps’ sounds on
the essence of the original sound or of an original
amp. They all varied. There is no single
original sound of these amps. That’s the beauty
of it. I also think one shouldn’t copy someone
else but use it to learn and build off of.
Do you also do repair work or mods?
In the beginning, I did it for experience or
for people who needed it, but I usually try
to stay away from it. A lot of modern amps
are built very differently from the older ones,
and the time I spent working on amps that
could just get fixed at a local music store was
time I wasn’t spending on building a custom
unit or getting more knowledge by tweaking
a custom unit. I do repair old stuff, just not
new stuff—but I don’t actively seek [old-gear
repair work] out. It’s more like, if someone is
stuck—like their old Marshall stopped working
and they’re worried about taking it to a
tech they don’t trust. People sometimes contact
me from the internet and want to send
in stuff for repair. I tell them to get the work
done locally, if possible, because there’s that
risk of the amp being damaged in shipping. I
kind of treat it on a case-by-case basis.
That type of honesty is pretty rare. A lot
of guys will do whatever it takes just to
get work in the door.
With anything I’ve ever sold, I’ve always
told them, “For the rest of your life, if you
ever have any problems with anything, just
let me know. If you change your playing
style, I’ll re-tweak it.” I’m always worried
about what the customer wants—that’s how
I do everything.
Why are NOS parts are so important?
The old resistors in ’60s Marshall plexis
sound much different than resistors made
from the ’80s until the present. They have
a smooth, warm, classic sound that I don’t
hear in modern resistors—it’s easily heard
in an A/B comparison for most positions in
the circuit. And I’m not talking about old
they, too, provide a certain flavor of tone in
certain spots in these amps. I just don’t prefer
them all the way through, because then
it loses high-end fidelity and doesn’t sound
like a Marshall.
But NOS parts are only part of the
puzzle. You have to know what to do with
them and which ones to select, and you
have to have a very finely tuned ear to do
this. It’s more than just whipping together
Is shelf life a concern with NOS parts?
I suppose any NOS part does have a shelf
life if you’re talking about a long enough
time frame. I won’t use old electrolytic
capacitors for obvious reasons—they dry
out. Also, depending on how the parts
were stored—and just because they’re old
parts in general, with different manufacturing
processes than today—you can
get ones that are way off tolerance.
Sometimes that can be a good thing or a
Do you test all of your NOS parts?
I measure each part, and I sometimes
utilize components that do not measure
what they actually are supposed
to. I have a large stash of vintage parts.
Sometimes certain part values measure
near spec, and others always measure
higher or lower. I’m not talking about
different-toleranced parts, but ones that
were supposed to have the same tolerance.
By having a large selection go through
my hands, I’ve been able to figure out
some things that someone with a smaller
quantity wouldn’t know. You can’t just
look at an amp’s insides and copy it,
because it will not sound the same.
There’s more than meets the eye.
Featuring white rolled Tolex, sleek elegant rolled edges, gold piping and trim, and handwired series Marshall
pinstripe grille cloth. Custom Shop EVH Peavey Wolfgang Moonburst guitar with detailed flame maple.
Tell us about some of your builds.
My most recent amp is based on a 1966
Marshall JTM45/100. I went all out on
details, so it’s cosmetically and sonically like
the original. The back panel has the proper
gold font—even the misaligned “III” in
“MK III”—and the dot in the second “i”
in “Amplifier” is slightly oval, as per the
original amps. The gold knobs on the front
panel are old and nearly identical to vintage
Marshalls. The circuit board is NOS
Paxolin, as per the originals. This does have
an effect on the sound. I used all NOS
original resistors found in amps from that
era. The coupling capacitors are original
Mullards with a date code of 1966.
I sourced as many original components
as possible from all over the world.
I even managed to source original PVC
stranded wire from a guy in England
who supplied Marshall with them in the
’60s. I also sourced the original pink wire
to the pots and the slightly thicker diameter
pink wire for the pot jumpers and
input jacks, as per original amps of this
era—this wire is next to extinct and plays
a role in the vintage tone.
The old wire had a different molecular
structure, a different strand arrangement,
and a different grade of PVC.
Also, the old Marshall carbon-film resistors
I used are part of the tone of this
era. I find modern carbon-film resistors
much too bright for these amps, and
carbon-composition resistors lack too
much high-end fidelity.
I have experimented and A/B’d different
wire. I can tell the difference between stranded
and solid-core wire. I can also tell the difference
between cloth-covered and stranded
PVC wire. To take it a step further, there is
a difference if the stranded wire is twisted
inside the PVC, or if it’s all laid out parallel
to each other. I see many builders today
using bonded or top-coated stranded wire,
and I don’t like this wire for vintage Marshall
amps. It doesn’t sound right.
What specifically doesn’t sound right
Notice I said it doesn’t sound “right,” but
I didn’t say “bad.” We are talking about
vintage Marshall tube amplifiers and recreating
that original tone. The top-coated or
bonded wire does not transfer the signal the
same as a stranded wire does. By stranded, I
mean the wire’s strands are easily separated
and not tinned into one conductor. There’s
more detail in the high-end with stranded
wire. It’s harder to work with, but I much
prefer the tone for these amps. After all, isn’t
that the whole point of the build—the tone?
I think a lot of guys use top-coated wire
because they don’t believe it can have an
effect on the tone, or it’s easier to work
with, or they simply don’t pay attention to
the details like I do—or their ears can’t hear
the difference. I am really particular about
the kind of wire I use in different circuits,
and where I use it in the circuits.
How do you find your parts?
The best way to find the original parts is to
spend an enormous amount of time contacting
every ham radio guy from England
there is. It’s similar to how guys find parts
for old classic cars. You really have to spend
a lot of time digging. I love this part of
rebuilding some of the old amps, though!
There are guys I regularly stay in contact
with from England, and I love that they
know I am putting parts they saved for the
past 40 or 45 years to good use. I read an
interview with Jeff Beck not too long ago
and he talked about looking for car parts
in America to complete his hot rods. Same
Are there enough parts to go around to
make a big run of vintage replicas?
I have a large amount of vintage parts for
multiple vintage amp builds, but I treat it on
a case-by-case basis. If I were building a high
quantity of my own designs, I would source
new parts that gave me the tone I wanted.
What do you do if you can’t locate an
If I can’t find an original part, I often make
my own replacement part. In the JTM45/100
replica, I made my own internal fuse holder. I
design and make my own circuit boards for my
amps and pedals. I make my own wah inductors,
too. For wah pots, one way I build them is
by swapping the internal phenolic wafer from
an old pot into a new wah pot casing. In guitars,
I modify the pot’s internal carbon track for
a higher resistance, so they sound more like the
pots found in old Les Pauls. If making my own
part is not an option, I’ll source an alternative
NOS part or, if needed, a new part that reacts
and sounds as close as possible to the original.
Would you later replace that part with
an NOS part if you were able to track
Yes, but mostly on strict vintage builds.